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Thursday, 26 April, 2001, 07:57 GMT 08:57 UK
Bland's road to BT
Sir Christopher Bland
Bland: Former chairman of LWT
Sir Christopher Bland, named on Thursday as British Telecom's new chairman, was appointed chairman of the BBC governors by John Major in 1996.

He is a millionaire businessman with wide experience of broadcasting and broadcast regulation, both in the commercial and public sector.
Bland in TV
BBC chairman from 1996
LWT chairman 1983-1994
Deputy chairman Independent Broadcasting Authority 1972-1979

He has never worked in telecoms.

He is a former chairman of London Weekend Television (where his chief executive was current BBC director general Greg Dyke) and was deputy chairman of the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) in the 1970s.

He later admitted that at the time of his appointment to the IBA he did not own a television and had to rush out and buy one.

At LWT, Sir Christopher presided over a revival of fortunes, turning it into one of ITV's most profitable companies - and leading to its sale to Granada in one of the first moves to consolidate the industry.

Thanks to his share options, Sir Christopher was catapaulted into the ranks of the UK's multi-millionaire businessmen.

At the BBC, Sir Christopher led the negotiations which secured the future funding of the BBC through the licence fee, and has been involved in the negotiations over the regulation of broadcasting aimed at strengthening the role of the BBC governors.

During his tenure, the BBC also launched new digital television services including BBC Choice and BBC News 24, and created BBC Online, Europe's largest content website.

His work at the BBC hasn't been universally admired. Some have criticised him for what they see as an overbearing boardroom presence.

And some have suggested his "hands on" management style would be more appropriate in a chief executive than a chairman.

Sir Christopher began his business career at Curry's and then moved to Singer Sewing Machines.

Other posts have included:

  • Chairman of printers and publishers Sir Joseph Causton & Sons 1977-1985
  • Chairman of publishers Century Hutchinson 1984-1989
  • Director of National Provident Institution 1978-1988
  • Director of Storehouse 1988-1993
  • Chairman of Exel 1994-2000
  • Chairman of Life Sciences International 1987-1997
  • Chairman of the Private Finance Panel 1995-1996

In his youth Sir Christopher was a Conservative member of the Greater London Council.

He developed an interest in health issues and was chairman of the Hammersmith & Queen Charlotte's Hospitals Special Health Authority from 1982-1994 and of Hammersmith Hospitals NHS Trust from 1994-1997.

He was knighted in 1993 for his work in the NHS.

Skier and fencer

Sir Christopher was born in Japan in 1938, educated at Sedbergh School, Cumbria and Queens College, Oxford University where he gained a degree in modern history.

His family have roots in Sneem in County Kerry and he was brought up in County Down.

Married in 1981, Sir Christopher has one son, two stepsons and two stepdaughters.

On his CV, he lists his interests as fishing and skiing.

He is also reported to enjoy reciting poetry and is a major shareholder in the Prue Leith restaurants and cookery schools.

He was a member of the Irish Olympic fencing team in 1960.

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